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“Some families come to us after being with a private tutor or organization because the services weren’t specialized or individualized for students with learning differences. More often than not, they were also financially inaccessible. I don’t think any child should go without, especially because of money, so if we can help, that’s incredible.”—Claire, Program Manager
For the last three years, Claire has been making a difference in our students’ lives through advocacy and her passion for teaching, first as an Instructor with the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) and now as our Program Manager.
Claire’s interest in education—specifically her experiences as a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) at the University of British Columbia during her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing—attracted her to LDS. “I was a TA for many creative writing courses and saw a lot of students take creative writing as an elective. They thought that writing was easy, so they took it and then realized writing can be hard. I saw that struggle a lot, and it made me think about how writing must be even more challenging for people with written output difficulties.”
As Program Manager, Claire oversees the onboarding and matching of instructors and students. For instructors, her tasks include recruiting, hiring, and training, which allows her to continue her passion for teaching. For clients, her role includes intake interviews, scheduling, and assisting with funding.
During client intakes, Claire says, “we learn more about the child’s learning needs, their strengths, their stretches, and what their goals are. We talk about what we do and the ways we can offer support. Following the intake, I help families access internal and third-party funding: CKNW Kids’ Fund, Variety Children’s Charity Heart Fund, Jordan’s Principle, and Autism Funding Unit. If they are eligible, I’ll help them apply; sometimes I will help with literacy and numeracy skills to fill out the forms if those are barriers for the guardians.”
This is part of what Claire calls advocating and, in this case, internal advocating.
Advocating for the financial accessibility of our services and helping families is what Claire finds fulfilling in her job. Claire’s tone softens as she talks about her experiences helping families:
“From my experience, people think of accessibility in terms of mobility and not so much as financial. What I enjoy about my job is making our services more financially accessible. I come from a working–class, single-parent family of two kids with no outside help. If my brother or I had needed any academic or social support that would have been challenging. Our sports were already so financially difficult for my mom, who never wanted us to be without. She got a paper route on top of her full-time job to support us. So, if there is any way that we can provide financial assistance, it means a lot to me.”
Claire’s advice for families is to keep advocating for their family and their child(ren). “Or find people who can help because not everyone knows how to advocate. That’s also something we can do in small ways. That’s why I’m so passionate about the financial accessibility of our services: it’s a way we can help families advocate for their child.”
Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. Currently studying Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people.